The 2008 Market Leaders list, which identifies the top remodelers in 20 top remodeling markets, was compiled through a combination of research by Professional Remodeler staff and information provided by the listed companies. The list of 100 companies is listed below.
Follow the Money
Customer service that goes beyond the norm has helped Dave Adamczyk and DA Home Improvement succeed in the competitive Michigan multifamily market. Photo by Marc Berlow
There are economic downturns, and then there’s Detroit.
While most of the country feels the effects of the hard-hit economy and a slowdown in the remodeling market, few cities have been hit as hard as Detroit. Not only is the area suffering from the results of the subprime fallout, but a local economy dependent on manufacturing has been in a freefall. (In fact, the metro area ranked No. 6 for foreclosures in the first quarter of the year, making it the only Top 10 market outside the Sun Belt.)
Put it all together and it seems like a recipe for disaster. That makes the success of DA Home Improvement, based in suburban Wyandotte, Mich., stand out even more. While many area remodelers lost millions of dollars in business from 2006 to 2007 or just disappeared altogether, DA Home Improvement was able to grow slightly to $18 million in sales in 2007, with more growth forecast for this year.
Instead of fighting the economy and scrambling for a piece of the shrinking single-family market, DA Home Improvement has succeeded by turning its attention to multi-family projects. While the company still undertakes smaller residential projects, multi-family — ranging from low-income apartments to high-end condominiums — has become its bread and butter.
It’s a matter of following the market, says President Dave Adamczyk. With people losing their homes or choosing not to buy, the apartment market is booming. Because of high vacancy rates, many property owners weren’t remodeling, but now rising demand is causing them to invest in much-needed renovations.
“They’ve found that they can take a property with a lot of open units, spend some money on remodeling, and then they end up with a waiting list to get in,” Adamczyk says. “After they see that, they decide to invest in upgrading their other properties, too.”
Like many firms, DA Home Improvement relies on repeat and referral business. What sets the company apart is the incredible level of service that Adamczyk offers his clients to make sure they get that business.
“I do everything I can to make the project work for the client,” he says. “We’ll finance it for them, we’ll piecemeal it, we’ll help them get grants — whatever we can do.”
One recent project is a perfect example of that above-and-beyond service. A potential client had an apartment complex that literally had blue tarps covering a leaky roof. (“It looked like we were down in the Caribbean after a hurricane,” Adamczyk says.) Because of the roof, the property owners couldn’t get insurance, and without insurance they couldn’t get a loan to make repairs.
“So, I went in and financed the roof for them and made sure they had cash flow to handle it,” Adamczyk says.
Once the roofs were repaired, the client got insured, and then Adamczyk helped them secure funding from a lender he works with to not only pay the company back for the roof, but also to undertake $4 million in siding and shutters.
“They got insurance and paid me off, and I got the job for the rest of the complex,” Adamczyk says. “A lot of contractors won’t do that.”
Another service offers his low-income housing clients help with getting state and federal grants. The residents have to meet income standards, but the grants are readily available.
“There are grants that are just waiting there,” he says. “These apartment owners don’t even realize they can use them, or if they do, they don’t want to be involved with the paperwork. So we do it for them.”
This has allowed him to close jobs he probably never would have gotten otherwise.
“What I can do now is go to people and say, ‘I can give you $300,000 or $400,000 if you’re going to do X amount of work.’ That’s a big deal,” Adamczyk says.
Even after the job is completed, that dedication to service continues. While the company will go back and take care of any normal warranty work, Adamczyk has also sent his team to repair storm damage or other problems on completed jobs. It’s all part of the effort to make sure DA Home Improvement stays top-of-mind for property managers and co-op boards. Unlike a homeowner, a property manager will probably undertake dozens of remodeling projects at various properties. That’s also why Adamczyk walks through every job site to complete a final punch list after his project managers have done theirs.
“It’s got to meet my standard of absolute perfection,” he says. “People see me on their properties, and then three or four or five years later, they remember that when they need to hire someone again.”
The company does most of its work around Detroit, but will go farther for the right project. Adamczyk is getting more calls from out of state now, and he’s expanding his service area to reach his ultimate goal of a $30 million to $40 million-a-year company. Because DA Home Improvement uses subcontracted labor, Adamczyk only needs to send a project manager to the site to make these far-flung projects work.
That has also allowed him to keep his options open and offer nearly any type of remodeling. The company has done projects with millions of dollars in roofing and siding and then will turn around and get a $25,000 bathroom in a single-family home, or a multifamily job with 609 kitchens and 1,000 bathrooms.